The procedure involves removing the pancreas, procuring from the pancreas the islet cells, which produce insulin and other hormones, and then implanting them into the liver, which adapts to host the islet cells. Because the patient’s own islets are used, there is no risk of rejection and no need for immunosuppression drugs.

With the diseased pancreas removed, at a minimum, most patients enjoy a significant reduction or complete elimination of pain, which ultimately means they can also decrease or eliminate their reliance on pain medications, thus other chronic digestion problems may alsocome to an end. Of course, with the successful islet cell transplant, diabetes can be prevented or halted from further development. In the case that the islet cells don’t thrive after transplantation, the other benefits of the procedure – pain reduction and improved digestion – remain.

How Ohio State eliminates pain of pancreatitis with Auto Islet transplantation.

Why choose Ohio State for auto islet transplant?

The Comprehensive Transplant Center at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is one of the largest organ transplant programs in the nation. Over 9,250 organ transplantations have been performed here since 1967.

  • The only institution in central Ohio, and one of a small number in the nation, with an FDA-approved isolation laboratory for pancreatic auto islet transplantation, which ensures that the process is done to the highest standards.
  • A National Pancreas Foundation Center for pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer since 2014. This designation recognizes premier healthcare facilities that focus on multidisciplinary treatment of the “whole” patient to enhance the best possible outcomes, improve quality of life and advance research.
  • Active member of the Collaborative Islet Transplant Registry (CITR) since 2008. Sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the mission of CITR is to expedite progress and promote safety in islet cell transplantation.

Commitment: Our multidisciplinary team works together to optimize patient outcomes. This includes gastroenterologists, transplant surgeons, endocrinologists, transplant psychologists, social workers and an extensive support team, each addressing individual factors that impact transplantation success. Always interested in the next breakthrough, our disease specialists also participate in clinical trials for pancreas disease and islet transplantation outcomes that are sponsored by the National Institute of Health.

Proven Success: Ohio State performed its first auto islet transplant in 2008, so we’ve gained the important insight and experience needed to successfully prepare, treat and support our patients before, during and after the surgery.


Auto Islet Transplant Candidates

Auto Islet Transplant Candidates

Auto Islet Transplant Candidates

  • Patients suffering from chronic pancreatitis and the incapacitating pain it can cause may benefit from auto islet transplantation, particularly when other treatment options, such as medical, endoscopic and other surgical interventions, have failed to provide relief and there is significant risk of developing diabetes with more interventions.
  • If identified as appropriate by your gastroenterologist, islet auto transplantation may also be a viable treatment option for some other pancreatic conditions. People with metastatic cancer, active infection or severe medical problems are generally not candidates for the procedure.
  • All patients must meet the chemical dependency requirements of the Ohio Solid Organ Transplantation Consortium. The use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs is carefully examined.
  • Patients who meet criteria for alcohol or drug dependence must undergo at least three months of rehabilitation and demonstrate three months of abstinence before transplantation. Patients with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure may need to stabilize their conditions before transplantation, and we will work across medical disciplines to support these improvements.

Patient Process

Auto Islet Transplant Process

Auto Islet Transplant Process

Because total pancreatectomy and auto islet transplantation involves removal of the pancreas, it is not considered a first line of treatment. However, it can prove extremely effective for selective candidates who can be identified through an extensive evaluation prior to transplant. To improve outcomes, Ohio State supports patient education and engagement before, during and after auto islet transplantation.

Treatment Team

Auto Islet Transplant Team

Auto Islet Transplant Team

Our Comprehensive Transplant Center treatment team includes:

Frequently Asked Questions

Tips From Our Experts

Acute Pancreatitis: Causes, Diagnosis and Care at Ohio State

Acute pancreatitis can cause incredibly severe pain. Luis Lara, MD, Medical Director for Ohio State's Total Pancreatectomy and Islet Transplantation program, explains the causes, diagnosis and treatment of the condition.

Auto Islet Transplantation and Other Treatment Options

Auto Islet transplantation and other treatment options for chronic pancreatitis, explained by Luis Lara, MD, Medical Director for Ohio State's Total Pancreatectomy and Islet Transplantation program.

Pancreatic Auto Islet Transplant Surgery at Ohio State

Amer Rajab, MD, PhD explains the surgery process for a total pancreatectomy and auto islet transplant for patients suffering from chronic pancreatitis.

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